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Sea turtles are large shelled reptiles that breath air and live in the ocean. They are adapted for life in marine waters. They swim and steer with their front and hind limbs that are flippers. They also have tear ducts in their eyes that allow them to excrete salt.
Species of sea turtles that are commonly found in Florida's waters include the Atlantic green, loggerhead, Kemp's ridley, hawksbill and leatherback. Different sea turtles eat different foods. For example, the adult green turtle is a herbivore that eats only plant material and the loggerhead is a carnivore that eats only meat (Florida Center for Environmental Studies).
Nesting turtles in Florida are the loggerhead, leatherback and greens (Florida Center for Environmental Studies). During the spring and summer months, female turtles come ashore after dark to nest on sandy beaches. Using her rear feet, she digs a hole in soft sand and deposits her rubbery eggs. She then covers the hole with sand and packs it. After about 60 days, hatchlings emerge from their nests most often at night and head for the brightest horizon, which is hopefully the moon shining over the ocean waters. Brightly lit cities can disorient the hatchlings causing them to head toward developed areas.
Major threats to sea turtles include loss of beach habitat due to development and accidental death in fishing nets. All sea turtles are protected by state and federal laws (Florida Center for Environmental Studies).
"Florida Sea Turtles." Florida Center for Environmental Studies.
U.S. Department of the Interior, U.S. Geological Survey, Center for Coastal Geology
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